Monday Meal Review: Qatar

This week we hosted a Fairies around the World party. There were two main reasons, only one of which had anything to do with fairies.

First of all, the party was a way to quell my motherly distress over the fact that my husband, my daughter, and I all have birthdays in the middle of summer (which, in Oklahoma means suffering through 112 degree days). In other words, we have no other option than to spend our birthdays submerged in water (or suffer in air conditioning, which I have little interest in).

As a result, I’ve not been able to provide theme birthday parties for any of us. Don’t get me wrong – at one time a regular birthday party with a few stray balloons seemed perfectly normal… but something changed post-Pinterest. Now everything must have a theme, even pencil holders. And the litter box (yes, really)… oh, and don’t forget about the cat bed.

(p.s. none of these pins actually made it into my house).

I’m so entrenched, I now create Pinterest boards like “rainbow birthday parties” knowing full well there is no way we can pull them off.  But a fairy party in October – when the weather is floating in the 60’s? That seemed doable. So, of course, I started a pinboard and collected ideas. I knew I wanted to create fairy looms, for the kids… and little pipe cleaner fairies. The kids had so much fun, we never even got to the crafts; I had to send them home with mom & dad for another day.


As for the second reason to have the party, I hoped it would be a way to teach my daughter than there is more to life than Tinkerbell. It never ceases to amaze me how children can watch a show once and grapple to it like a mountain goat on a near-vertical cliff. I thought, given enough time, she’d eventually let go – move on – try a different view. But not the goats. And not Ava. We’re living in Tinkerbell central.

Then it hit me… surely there are other cultures who talk about fairies besides the United Kingdom… why not use inspiration from around the world to learn about others?  A quick Google search told me it was possible.

So here’s what I wrote on the Facebook invite:

Ava loves fairies. Truth be told, so do I. To widen her understanding of these mystical creatures, I decided to host a little party for her and her friends to learn about the fairies of the world. Aside from the famous ones in the United Kingdom (think Tinkerbell), there are fire fairies in Japan, water fairies like Ondine in Germany, the Aziza fairies in the forests of Nigeria, the Chullachaqui in the Amazon… and the list goes on. Here’s what you need to do: Have you and your child come dressed as fairies from somewhere in the world. Be sure to tell us what kind of fairy you are, where you are from, and something about you (like your talent). Remember, there are fairies of all genders… and I think it’ll be extra fun if the adults participate, too (we will).

I made the party a potluck – my favorite kind of party – and encouraged people to bring food inspired from their fairy land. One family brought Madeleine’s from their French soccer-coffee-baguette toting fairy. Other’s brought simpler dishes. See the red and white fairies? They are Swedish mushroom fairies. If they get scared, they can squat down and blend in like mushrooms!

I shared Qatar.

While there’s no connection between Qatar and Tinkerbell (that I’m aware of), I wanted to be sure to bring this week’s Global Table to the party. The night was perfect.

But here’s the crazy thing – halfway through the costume party I find out that one of the mothers I hang out with all the time (especially last year, when the girls were in the same class) actually lived in Qatar for years. Years!  She was sitting right next to me as I told people about what I’d made to share. I almost fell over when she told us (she’s the one in the pink t-shirt, on the right in the group photo below).

I spent the next few minutes asking her about traditional Qatari food. It was so fun.

Turns out the great big world is right here, right now. Even in Oklahoma.

We just have to open our eyes, ears, and mouths.

Cumin Seed Potatoes | Batata b’kamun [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

This is a weeknight dinner option that makes me feel like I’m at a party. The incredible combination of cumin, turmeric and coriander with sweet, softened onion makes for completely addicting flavor. One bite in, Mr Picky simply nodded in wide-eyed joy. He then proceeded to follow me into the kitchen and sneak several more potatoes from the bowl while my back was turned. Ava even ate this, which I wasn’t sure would happen… although she didn’t chow down with full force (she’s still learning to love caramelized onions). This one is great for potlucks and reheats really well.

What I loved least about this dish:

Nothing. I find if you cut your potatoes before you boil them, they tend to get soggy. Boil, then slice. Also, I really enjoy a little potato skin, but if this isn’t for you, you can easily slip them out of their skins before tossing with the spices. Be sure to use the full amount of oil, as it helps get the spices all over the potatoes.

Stuffed Grape Leaves | Warak Enab [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

Oh… just everything. Even hand rolling the leaves went very quickly and my efforts were rewarded with a small bounty which I can nibble on throughout the week. I am particularly proud that Ava helped make these and showed quite an interest in nibbling on them as well. What a transformation from all the times I’ve tried to convince her in the past.

What I loved least about this dish:

Not much. I did notice some of the grape leaves on the top of the pile were a little less done than those that we completely submerged. Check for doneness – cooking times might vary. As I mentioned in the recipe, some recipes call for up to 3 hours.

Cinnamon Buttered Dates | Al Rangina [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

What a unique and fun dish… a real opportunity to bring something others haven’t had to a potluck. For me, this was a fairly good experience with dates. While I still don’t enjoy them on their own, they take on real life with some butter, cinnamon and sugar. (Then again, what food doesn’t?). This was pretty good!

What I loved least about this dish:

Al Rangina would make fun finger food for a party but there’s no way a small family of three, like ours, can polish this entire recipe off by ourselves. The worst of the worst is that I forgot to set this dish out at our Fairies around the World party, and so I now have a pound of butter and dates to finish off, virtually by myself (family isn’t so into). I’m thinking about chopping it up and making a cinnamon date bread with the leftovers.

Ava’s Corner:

Giveaway Winner:

Congratulations to Anna who says:

My favorite part of Halloween is pumpkin carving and then getting to use the extra pumpkin flesh for pie, or custard when I’m feeling too lazy to make a pie crust. This year I planted a buttercup squash plant in the garden, so if everything goes well I should be able to make buttercup squash pie too.

Please email me by 10/29/12  to claim your prize, Anna!


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